I read 68 books this year that were not client books or requested manuscripts. There's a list of them at LibraryThing if you want to see all of them.
Here are the ones that just knocked my sox right off:
1. THE PATH TO POWER by Robert Caro
The meticulous research on the life of Lyndon Johnson up to 1941 gives this book depth and authority so powerful and enthralling it's impossible to put down. Not only does Mr. Caro correct other historian's errors he is able to explain the absence of written records in particular places.
I had to stop reading after the first volume because it was like living with LBJ, and in the words of both his detractors and his admireres "LBJ is a true sonavabitch." I intend to start in on volume two after the new year.
If you write non-fiction, this book must be on your reading list.
2. MAJOR PETTIGREW'S LAST STAND by Helen Simonson.
There's simply nothing to say other than I love the Major. Read this. It's smart and funny and a terrific story.
3. A HANDBOOK OF AMERICAN PRAYER by Lucius Shepherd.
This book is stunning. Originally published in 2004 by Thunder's Mouth Press, it was republished this year as part of the Concord Free Press. It's a stunning work of fiction that defies description. I'm not much on cerebral instrospective literary fiction, so you know this isn't that. It's more like an utterly compelling crime novel disguised as literary fiction. Absolutely the most interesting and evocative book I read this year (other than the work of my amazing clients.)
4. MARGARET MITCHELL'S GONE WITH THE WIND by
Absolutely requiered reading for fans of Gone With the Wind but also for anyone interested in the changes in publishing since 1935. Very readable, and very entertaining even though we know how the story ends.
5. A TRICK OF THE LIGHT by Louise Penney.
7. WYATT by Garry Drisher
Non-stop action. Heart stopping prose. It's Jack Reacher on crack.
8. DOC by Mary Doria Russell
The story of Doc Holliday and the Earps before Tombstone, but like all great novels, it's really about much more than that.
9. THE CUT by George Pelecanos
I'm praying this is the start of a new series.
10. CLAIRE DEWITT AND THE CITY OF THE DEAD by Sara Gran
Sara Gran has been knocking my sox off since DOPE. This book turns genre on its ear. Even purists can admire how she expands and illuminates the tropes of crime fiction here. This is an amazing book.